Europa Cinema > 17:30


Howard Hawks
Introduced by

Carlo Chatrian (Berlinale)


Sunday 25/06/2023


Original version with subtitles


Film Notes

The Big Sky proved that of all Hawks’s genres, the western was where he came closest to a love story. That extends to themes of friendship and camaraderie, as well as the core value of instinctiveness. Camaraderie is measured in purely practical terms. None of the main figures is a supporting character; each of them is engaged in a similar existential battle with him/herself. The sheriff and his team must confront 30-40 of Burdette’s well- paid professionals. This is a tall tale in the middle zone between the impossible and the necessary where good movies live.
Hawks often mentioned High Noon. He didn’t like the way Gary Cooper keeps asking for help and then doesn’t need it. In Hawks’s film, Wayne never asks for help yet always needs it, not only in the finale but in every critical situation.
The way the turning-points develop between the main characters (Wayne, Martin, Dickinson, Brennan, Nelson) reveals an anatomy of resourcefulness and a creed of friendship sketched in ac- tion. Each character is indispensable at some point of the narrative.
No moment in cinema has been de- bated as heatedly in Finnish bars as the one where Dean Martin pours his drink back into the bottle while hearing Deg- uello (“Didn’t spill a drop”). Few films have cross-illuminated as unforgettably alcohol’s competitive position against any other aspect of life.
Martin is aware that he has just a fraction of a second to survive and needs to play the part of the bum to the hilt to be able to shoot first. Analysing such scenes might help understand what the axiomatic greatness of Rio Bravo is all about: the functioning of the mind, making sense of reality, perceptions and reactions that contribute to our full indi- viduality, worthy of camaraderie.
Few films provide such pleasure in the simple observation of walking, ex- changed looks and rolling tumbleweeds. The studio-bound neverland deploys the stylised arsenal of western movies com- plete with studio-lit sunsets. The result may be the kind of “stripped-down” western Nicholas Ray dreamed of for his Jesse James movie.
Rio Bravo is a portrait of a man on the edge, senses in full alert, as remem- bered by eternity.

Peter von Bagh, Lajien synty [On the Origin of the Species], WSOY, Helsinki 2009. Edited in English by Antti Alanen

Cast and Credits

Sog.: dal racconto A Bull by the Tail di B.H. McCampbell. Scen.: Jules Furthman, Leigh Brackett. F.: Russel Harlan. M.: Folmar Blangsted. Scgf.: Ralph S. Hurt. Mus.: Dimitri Tiomkin. Int.: John Wayne (sceriffo John T. Chance), Dean Martin (Dude), Ricky Nelson (Colorado Ryan), Angie Dickinson (Feathers), Walter Brennan (Stumpy), Ward Bond (Pat Wheeler), John Russell (Nathan Burdette), Pedro Gonzalez Gonzalez (Carlos), Estelita Rodriguez (Consuelo), Claude Akins (Joe Burdette). Prod.: Armada Productions. DCP. D.: 141’. Bn.